Last week, when KT was here, she convinced me to call The Bicycle Circus and offer them a place to stay. And by “convinced” I mean she said “Hey! Call Laird, and tell him the circus can stay on your couch when they’re on their way to the Dead-Baby Downhill!” I do everything KT tells me to, within reason. Almost every suggestion that KT has is brilliant. Like, for instance: She’s the person who told me to sell my Snarky Cards in bars.
However, when KT’s ideas are Not Good, they can quickly turn into disasters. Like when she decided that I should start doing tactile art. Which is to say: she moved to China and she left me a shed full of random stuff: boxes of typewriter keys and little green army men one of those candy machines that you find at the grocery store (without the key that you’d need to open the top, to replace the nothingness inside with gumballs, or the key you’d need to open the back and get the change that fraustrated drunken people had sacrificed inside it at one of our keggers).
But if it doesn’t need painting and I can’t put words on it, I have no idea what to do with it. A year and a half later, I had to move out of The Funhouse, and figure out how to get rid of the shed full of stuff. By then, I’d been in 3 more car accidents and I had a hard time standing up, sitting down and carrying things. This put a strain on my relationship with my Fake Ex-Husband, Steve, who still lived at The Funhouse and wanted to use the shed for his car. In fact, this is one of the factors that spun us into our Fake-Divorce. It took me three years for me to realize that KT said she thought I should start doing tactile art because she didn’t want to clean the shed out.
But arguing with KT is harder than just doing what KT says, and figuring out the pluses and minuses later, when it’s too late and all I can think of is “What the fuck is my life turning into?”. This time I thought “Yay! Circus” and called Laird, to offer said Circus my couch, and then KT made some more cocktails and I forgot all about it.
A week later, after KT and Carter had absconded from my sofa (and bed) I got a call from Laird “So, um, is it still OK if we crash on your sofa?” he asked. “Because we’re on the road now, and we should get to Portland by midnight.” I was caught off guard, on my way to the Fenbi show and I got nervous.
I just got my new room-mate Patrick, I don’t want to lose him in a month. That would make me feel bad about myself as a room-mate. I called him to check. “Is it Ok with you if the circus stays at our apartment tonight? Because they’re on the way…” I woke him up from his nap. “Well, you already told them they could, right?” He asked crankily “I told them probably, but I’d have to check with you first.” I desperately tried to make it sound like he had a choice. People like choices. They say yes when they think they have a choice. That’s why I make so many fucking Snarky Cards.”As long as they’re not so loud I can’t sleep.” He grumbled. I was relieved.
I should explain: the Circus is a bunch of Bike Punks, who make pedal powered rides in a junk yard in San Francisco. They weld and paint fairground rides out of bikes, and then take them all over the country so that people can simultaneously enjoy bike riding and flying. You can find Cyclecide at fairs and festivals and big bike party’s. They bring joy to the masses. Their motto is: Safety Third. Fun is priority one and two. And I think it’s rad that I can call them my friends.
I hooked up with them two years ago, when I needed a ride from San Francisco back up to Portland, after my high school reunion (Santa Clara High Class of ’97, yo!). I’d just started selling Snarky Cards, and I was broke. I had enough money to get down to Santa Clara, for the damn thing, but I didn’t have money to get back to Portland. I can figure out how to make money with my cards now, but “making money with my art” was an abstract idea back then. “You could ride with the rodeo.” KT said. “You’d have to help them out, but they could get you back to Portland.” So, I called Laird, and he said that it was cool. We went to Bumbershoot in Seattle, and I sold their merchandise (and my Snarky Cards) and we stayed with The Dead Baby Bikers, in the Church of Bicycle Jesus.
It was so much fun, I never thought I’d see them again. You know what I mean? Like, a couple of days so magical and wild you chalk it up to youth, and you assume that it’s passed. So, I didn’t really expect them to stop in Portland on their way up to the Dead Baby Downhill. And Laird said they were going to drive straight though anyway.
By the time they finally got to town, I was back in SE, chilling on my friend Joel’s porch, thinking about how tired I was. “I’m going to have to take the bus to meet you at my apartment” I told Jerico when he called to say they were on my street. “We have a bus. We can give you a ride.” he said. I thought he was kidding. I thought he was generously calling Laird’s van a bus. “Cool!” I said.
A half hour later I hear a diesel engine, coming around the corner of Belmont and 21st Ave. This is not a bus route. But I’ve been trained by my years of riding buses and my neck snapped when I heard the sound. A big yellow school bus was making a brave turn from 21st Ave onto Belmont.
A hundred bikes were stacked up on top of it -and all the other peices of the Cyclecide rides. “I think that’s your bus.” Joel pointed down the street. I stared for a minute. “Oh. Shit. It is a bus, isn’t it?” I muttered, mentally recalculating how much couch room I actually have.
Joel laughed. “All those people are staying at your house?” He yelled over the bus’s roar. “It’s an apartment!” I screamed from across the street, bravely looking up at the monstrosity. Laird slowed to a stop on Belmont, and I hopped in, with Joel laughing in the background as we made the slowest getaway possible.
Everyone on the bus was tired. And relieved to meet me. Apparently school bus tires are hard to find and replace in the small towns that dot the Pacific Northwest. And between here, and San Francisco, the bus had gotten two flats. So they’d spent the last 24 hours trying to get to The Dead Baby Downhill, in Seattle, where their pedal-powered rides were featured for The Big Race. They didn’t even mean to stop in Portland, which is what Laird had told me when I’d called him a week earlier, but the road is a harsh mistress, and she was bitch slapping the fuck out of the circus.
Patrick was watching True Romance, when we arrived, and I danced around the apartment, asking all the tired bike punks if they wanted Vodka, or weed. They wanted a shower. So, I happily offered them my towels and soap, and we finished watching True Romance with Patrick. And as they all roared with delight simultaneously at Brad Pitts very best role ever, I remembered how nice it is to have cute boys in my house, yelling and laughing at the same time. There were two girls on the trip (that’s the way the circus goes, it’s a great boy-to-girl ratio!) and one of them made me Kale. Which, I found out, is really, really yummy. Patrick liked hanging out with the circus, relaxing into the guy time easily, so no room-mate repercussions. The next day, I woke up around noon, and they were all getting back into the bus, I watched them back it up into the strip club across the street, waving in my pajamas on my porch, feeling like a good person, because I got to offer them some respite from their hard journey, and it didn’t cost me anything. So: thanks for the Klowns KT!